Elkins celebrates 30th anniversary of ADA
ELKINS — Elkins and Randolph County officials joined in a celebration Monday of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Thirty years ago on July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the bill, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else in the U.S.
On Monday afternoon, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton proclaimed July 26, 2020 as Americans with Disabilities Act Day. Broughton was joined by local elected officials, several area residents whom the ADA helps directly, and Willis McCollam, who organized the ceremony and is the executive director of the Northern West Virginia Center for Independent Living.
“I think it’s really great that Mr. McCollam contacted us at City Hall and wanted to do something special for this historic date,” Broughton said. “The Americans with Disabilities Act is very important and is something that is really huge in our country today. It has helped so many people over the years, so it’s great to recognize and honor what it’s all about.”
McCollam said people often mistake what the ADA is all about, and noted that he feel it is more important than people might think.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act is probably one of the top three or four and most empowering civil rights acts that we’ve passed in this country,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do in terms of enforcement, but we’ve definitely come a long way. And it’s not just about getting access to places, it’s about getting access to employment and being able to work.
“When people think about disability they often think of just a disability check from the government. But the big part of the ADA is about getting people out in the communities to be able to work and work effectively. And also being able to access community services and to live independently.”
McCollam’s organization, which covers 13 counties throughout West Virginia and has offices in Elkins and Morgantown, strives to help those in need throughout their respective communities.
“We provide services to people with disabilities,” he explained. “Skills training, advocacy, and transition services in and out of facilities are some of the things we offer. We work with our folks to help them be empowered to be responsible and productive citizens.”
Also taking part in Monday’s ceremony were Randolph County Commissioners Mark Scott and Chris See, and Phil Isner, the City of Elkins code enforcement officer and building inspector.